National Pisco Day
Peru is the birthplace of Pisco, which is a grape spirit, born in the Seaside town of Pisco, a few hours south of Lima. The drink is prepared in different ways but the most famous is without a doubt the Pisco Sour. To celebrate the drink, the Peruvian government declared the National Pisco Sour day which occurs on the first Saturday in February every year, not to be confused with National Pisco day which is celebrated in July.
The tradition was born around 18 years ago by journalists Virginia Rey Sanchez, Raul Vargas and Gustavo Rodriguez. A barman at the famous Maury Hotel bar came up with the official recipe. However, it was in 1916 that American expat Victor Morrison is widely acknowledged as inventing the delicious cocktail.
It was originally made with just Pisco, Lime juice and sugar, but in the 1920 egg white and a dash of bitters was added.
The Morris bar -where the drink was invented- was a famous watering hole for many including archaeologists, aviators, journalists, diplomats and politicians from the years 1916 to 1929.
There is a famous story from the Morris bar, in 1922 General Dean Ivan Lamb, a famous Aviation pioneer and soldier, discovered Pisco sours, really enjoyed the cocktail and proceeded to order another, to which to bartender objected saying that one is usually enough. After another Pisco sour, a fight broke out and the police were called and General Lamb was escorted to his hotel and given a rather large bill for the damages. The following day he left Lima at the advice of Augusto Leguia Jr, the son of the then president of Peru. Lamb went by train to the high Andean town of Puno, but it is said that he suffered from Altitude sickness and said
‘The high Altitudes interfered with my drinking, so I went over to Buenos Aires on the coast’.
The Pisco drink is the subject of great debated between Chile and Peru as to the origin of the drink. Chile claims that it originated in Chile and Peru claims the same. This has caused many problems between the two countries and the Peruvian customs form states that “any drink with the name Pisco that does not originate from Peru will be confiscated”. Along with the Pisco dispute, there is also a debate as to the origin of the fishplate called Ceviche, with both the Peruvians and the Chileans claiming the dish originated in their country.
The main Pisco producing regions in Peru are Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna with Pisco Sour Day celebrated more in these regions. In these districts, you are likely to come across Market stalls, tasting sessions and other related promotions, including gastronomic fairs, vineyard tours and concerts.
In the year 2010, the government of Lima and one of the large supermarket chains teamed up to create a Pisco fountain in the main plaza in Lima, people lined up for hours to get a taste of the free Pisco and the night was a great success.
All the best restaurants in Lima, Peru, have a cocktail list with all the local Peruvian drinks featuring, so when you are dining in one of these fine restaurants make sure you try the Pisco Sour, a refreshing drink especially in the summer months.
A basic recipe for Pisco Sour is as follows…
3 parts Pisco
1 to 2 parts sugar syrup (sweetness to taste)
1 part Lime Juice, use key limes if you are in the USA
Add an egg white and a cup of ice to all the ingredients above, to your blender and strain. The result is a frothy white foam on the top and a lime tinged concoction underneath. Serve with a few drops of bitters to complete to the drink.
Pisco can be hard to find outside of Peru, so when you are in Peru, do not forget to buy your Pisco so you can prepare this delicious cocktail.
Peru Tourism is on the rise, with thousands of people traveling to the Andean country every year, many companies offer travel tours including the famous and fabulous Machu Picchu and the challenging Inka Trail. Take a tour to the Amazon jungle region to Peru and marvel at the natural beauty of the area. This is only a touch of what you can see and experience in Peru. If you are interested in in visiting this great country during National Pisco Sour day, than book your tour for February!